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Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers / Elmo Hope Quintet
Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers / Elmo Hope Quintet
Offered by YES!JAPAN
Price: £19.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers/ The Elmo Hope Quintet, 14 Nov. 2015
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Good things come in small packages, and this, unfortunately, is a very small package, only 32 minutes in total. It consists of two sessions recorded by the west coast label, Pacific Jazz, both with an east coast connection. The first is by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the 1957 version, with Bill Hardman, Jackie McLean, Sam Dockery and Spanky DeBrest, and the second by Elmo Hope on piano with Harold Land, Leroy Vinnegar, Frank Butler and, slightly surprisingly, Stu Williamson on trumpet.
Blakey drives his band along assisted by a superb bassist. Hardman, on trumpet, is on top form, just managing to stay on top of the rhythm. He is not normally a forceful player and has a fairly soft tone, but his lively sit up and beg playing, which for some weird reason always reminds me of Freddie Jenkins, works very well. McLean, at this stage in his career, could sometimes be an unattractive player, but here his driving relentless style fits very well into the band sound. Dockery, only briefly the band's pianist, is pleasant, but out of his depth.
Elmo Hope's band have three numbers. He was in the middle of an unhappy stay on the west coast before returning to New York but produced some good music in his period in California. This is one example. He was one of the earlier bop pianists, along with Bud Powell, but by this time he had slowed down quite a lot and by this time his music had become more ruminative. He plays extremely well here and is in good company with his frequent associate Harold Land who plays with his usual dry authority and never made a bad record in his life. Bass and drums both play well and help make a satisfying group sound. They don't drive in the way that Blakey's rhythm sections did but then nobody ever did. Stu Williamson, best known for his work with the cooler musicians on the coast, fits in very well with the tougher sounds around him. The band is a pleasing example of the way the west coast sound toughened up as more black players became involved but still retained much of its melody.
Good as this is, Blakey has made more significant records in his career and people interested in the combination of Harold Land and Elmo Hope should look at 'The Fox' before this.


MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4
MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4
Price: £15.82

4.0 out of 5 stars McCoy Tyner Quartets 4x4, 7 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: MCCOY TYNER/_4 X 4 (Audio CD)
A varied selection of music by McCoy Tyner from 1980, a midpoint in his career. It doesn't measure up to the early Blue Notes, or to the even earlier trios but it is a nicely varied selection, albeit a little glossy in parts. The scheme of the disc is that Tyner, together with Cecil McBee on bass and Al Foster on drums make up quartets with various guest artists, namely Freddie Hubbard, John Abercrombie, Bobby Hutcherson and Arthur Blythe, so it is a bit of an artificial concept. Both McBee and Foster play superbly well, Foster eschewing his funk tendencies and playing straight ahead rhythm. Tyner completes a fine rhythm section, playing dazzling runs of notes on the fast numbers.
Freddie Hubbard takes the first three numbers, two of which are fast bravura displays by both trumpet and piano. The third,'Manha De Carnaval', is taken on flugelhorn, is quieter, pleasant, but a little nondescript. Although Freddie plays well his solos are not of the standard of his early Blue Notes either.
There are then two long tracks with John Abercrombie, playing electric mandolin and not guitar. These are slower, and show attractive interplay between piano and mandolin. However, Abercrombie does not play his instrument as a mandolin but produces a sound of a high pitched guitar with little tonal variation or depth. The next three tracks, featuring Bobby Hutcherson, are probably the best on the disc. The two were long time associates, sound very comfortable together, and produce attractive melodic music with no trace at all of Hutcherson's previous progressive inclinations. You could say the music is slightly glossy, and the vibes player is probably the third player on the disc whose efforts here do not measure up to his earlier Blue Notes. However, it is pleasant.
Lastly comes Arthur Blythe, always a bit of a mystery to me. He has a long history with the avant garde but tends to play a lot of the time in a simple, quite melodic style, as he does here. He has a pleasingly full tone, and reminds me a little here of Lou Donaldson, but without his blues feeling. Here, the music is pleasant but not particularly demanding.
So, the music here is varied and quite attractive but three of the main soloists have produced much better work elsewhere.


Comin' Your Way
Comin' Your Way
Price: £27.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Turrentine - Comin' Your Way, 6 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Comin' Your Way (Audio CD)
Yet another five star effort from the great tenor man, this time with his first team rhythm section, the Horace Parlan trio, and with the added bonus of big brother Tommy on trumpet. This was recorded in 1961 but not issued until 1978. That is no comment on its quality. Blue Note, the label concerned, was run by fans and recorded many more sessions than it could issue, partly to help support the musicians and partly out of simple enthusiasm.
The music is of the highest quality despite languishing in the vaults for all those years. The band had worked and recorded together for some time and were all familiar with each other's playing. Stanley is full toned, bluesy and swinging as he always was. He produces two beautiful ballad performances on 'Then I'll Be Tired Of You' and 'Someone To Watch Over Me' and a tender. but also lusty, solo on 'My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me'. On 'Fine L'll Lass' he goes lowdown, but still good natured, 'Thomasville' finds him displaying his R & B roots, and on 'Stolen Sweets' he produces a dazzling solo, described accurately in the sleeve note as an 'unending string of ideas'.
Parlan solos well throughout in his blues based style and along with George Tucker on bass and Al Harewood on drums forms an eminently suitable rhythm section, swinging and supportive but never intrusive. Tommy Turrentine, less well known than the others, plays well, like a slowed down version of Fats Navarro. He doesn't have Fats' technique but produces attractive lines, sometimes slightly gaunt but always warm. He is a fine foil to his more effusive younger brother.
The tunes are varied and attractive with a number of lesser known standards suitable for the warm and bluesy treatment they receive.
This really shows you just what jazz is all about!


Look Out! (RVG Edition)
Look Out! (RVG Edition)
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Turrentine - Look Out, 29 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Look Out! (RVG Edition) (Audio CD)
A whole batch of reviews ranging from enthusiastic to ecstatic, and I agree with virtually every word of them. Turrentine was an absolute master of his horn, with a blues feeling inherent, and absolutely natural, in everything he played. A most beautiful ballad player and a man capable of playing at length without ever flagging or becoming boring, he had a rich, full tone and a natural swing. In short, pretty much the complete article. He was a little under rated as otherwise he might have been considered one of the real greats. He was unquestionably a modern musician but had nothing of the avant garde about him and that may have caused him to be a little overlooked, or more precisely, not given the status he should have had.
This was his first recording as leader for Blue Note and the start of a string of discs for the company, all of the highest quality. On it he is accompanied by Horace Parlan's trio, about as ideal an accompaniment as you can get.
There is a nice variety of tunes. The title tune is a straight ahead blues based swinger producing fine solos from tenor and piano, 'Journey Into Melody', not at first sight a ballad suitable for jazz, produces a moving delicate solo from Stanley, and 'Return Engagement' is a fast swinger with Stanley in no way uncomfortable with the tempo. 'Little Sheri', here in two versions, is an attractive mixture of funk and tenderness, and 'Tiny Capers', the old Clifford Brown number, is a joyous swinger. And so it goes on, with not a weak track anywhere.
The accompaniment is ideal. Parlan, a really under rated pianist, swings constantly, is a masterful player of the blues, and has a quirky and attractive melodic sense. George Tucker on bass is not a fast player, but a straight ahead, powerful and swinging bassist, and Al Harewood an ideal drummer for this group, punctuating enough to be interesting but never too much so as to interfere with the relaxed swing he brings to the band.
Yes, really not a weakness anywhere!


The Dirty Bopper
The Dirty Bopper
Price: £12.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bruce Turner - The Dirty Bopper, 27 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: The Dirty Bopper (Audio CD)
I really don't know what to make of this. For virtually all of my life as a jazz fan, now in excess of fifty years, I have been a great admirer of Bruce, who was one of the great originals, both musically and in most other aspects of his life. I suppose the highlight of his career was the Jump Band in the late fifties and early sixties, in which Bruce , with his Pete Brown style alto pushing the beat along all the time, had a suitable vehicle for his talents. I still enjoy getting out and listening to the original 12 inch version of his 'Jumpin' At The NFT'.
But, I suppose one of the drawbacks of being an original is that sometimes it wasn't a very good idea to do something you did do, and that may be the case here. Bruce always had an interest in such as Lee Konitz, and indeed, studied with him. On this disc the first ten tracks show Bruce playing in a Konitz style (sort of) with a trio backing of Dave Cliff on guitar, Dave Green on bass and Eddie Taylor on drums. Cliff is entirely at home in the style and plays very well, Billy Bauer to a T. Bass and drums are not together and both sound a bit over recorded. They don't provide the smooth rhythmic backing the style demands nor do they provide any real impetus, the music proceeding in a somewhat hopalong sort of way. That has its effect on Bruce, who is on hesitant form, playing without any real freedom. He still plays with a fairly full tone, which in itself is a problem because the style requires a lighter sound, but he also loses the freedom of gesture and movement which made him so fine a player in his normal style. Of course, Bruce being Bruce, there is plenty of interest in even his less successful playing but you don't normally have to concentrate to such an extent to find the good bits.
The final three tracks are from a live recording by Humphrey Lyttelton's band including Bruce. 'Caribana Queen' is a West Indian flavoured piece featuring all three clarinets (Humph, Bruce and Johnny Barnes) which is a delightful trifle, 'High Society' a vigorous but hardly original outing for the old warhorse, and 'Three Little Words' somewhat spoilt by a recording quirk which makes Bruce solo with a very hollow tone.
It grieves me to write in these terms about a man I admire both as a musician and as a person, but any fan contemplating buying this should listen to it first.


Rainbow Gladiator
Rainbow Gladiator
Price: £12.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Billy Bang Quintet - Rainbow Gladiator, 22 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Rainbow Gladiator (Audio CD)
This seems, according to the sleeve, to have been a working band which was together for some time before this recording. It certainly is a well organised, musically cooperative unit. Although some of the musicians come from uncompromising avant garde backgrounds it is not really a free record, and is far more an example of hard bop leavened with much of the freer style of music introduced over the previous twenty years. Although it has been described as a good introduction to the avant garde, it is rather more than that. By the time this was recorded (1981) the two musics that went to create this had gone together to form a music completely comfortable with itself.
Anyway, enough of the theory. What we have here is a five piece band with Bang on violin, Charles Tyler playing some strong and full toned alto and baritone sax, Michele Rosewoman on piano and a rhythm section of Wilber Morris and Dennis Charles. All play extremely well throughout. Bang, although claiming to be influenced by Ornette's violin and having a bit of a reputation as a bit of a wild man, is technically very capable, as his work with the String Trio Of New York showed. He combines the aggression of the free violinists with the melodic music of earlier players to produce some fiery exciting solos. Tyler, previously involved in the wilder reaches of the avant garde, produces flowing, full toned solos on both his horns. Rosewoman, a name unknown to me, almost takes the honours as prime soloist, with some verbose piano, aggressive and dissonant when needed and delicate when not. The bass and drums push, prod and support where necessary and complete a fine quintet without any weak links.
There is some collective playing but the music is more based on a succession of soloists than is usual in the avant garde.
All tunes are originals, the standout being the title number, some 15 minutes in length, but all are suitable vehicles for the band.
None of the band are particularly well known, apart possibly from the leader, but they have produced a very satisfying record.


West Coast Brew - Quartet/Quintet Sessions 1955-1958
West Coast Brew - Quartet/Quintet Sessions 1955-1958
Price: £13.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Brew Moore - Quartet & Quintet Sessions 1955-1958, 20 Oct. 2015
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Brew Moore was a great tenor player who almost wilfully failed to build a career. He spent the bulk of his musical life wandering in America and Europe working as a single with local rhythm sections. He recorded only occasionally, not normally in organised circumstances. He apparently knew Jack Kerouac and his life may well have been one of the models for Kerouac's study of the beat life, 'On The Road'. At various times he had a serious drink problem. For all that, he produced music of a consistently high standard. He sounded very much like Lester Young although he took on board the innovations of Charlie Parker, and his style never really changed throughout the vagaries of his life. He famously said that anyone who didn't play like Lester was wrong, but possibly the best comment about his music came from the West Coast critic, Ralph Gleason. who said 'Brew has two absolutely golden gifts. He swings like mad and he has soul, he also has a priceless gift for phrasing. When Brew says it, he says it simply, but it rings true'.
This disc shows Brew on the West Coast during 1956 to 1958. Tracks 1-5 are with local musicians John Marabuto, Max Hartstein and Gus Gustafson as rhythm, with Eddie Duran on guitar added on one track. The band are more than competent support and Brew delivers an inspired ballad performance on 'Fools Rush In', with hard swinging versions of the other four tracks. On tracks 6-9 Dick Mills is added on trumpet, mobile but slightly thin toned, and Brew delivers a moving version of 'I Want A Little Girl' together with three lively swingers on the other tracks. Tracks 10-14 have Mills replaced with Harold Wylie, another Lestorian tenor, and bass and drums being John Mosher and John Markham. Marabuto remains. Wylie is extremely capable with a slightly tougher sound than Moore and the rhythm swing strongly. There is an attractive ballad version of 'Nancy With The Laughing Face', with the other four tracks including lots of swinging competitive tenor.
The final track is a live version of a blues by Brew with Cal Tjader's quartet of the time with good solos by Brew, Cal and Vince Guaraldi.
So, a lot of unknowns, but all good, and coupled with a much sublime tenor from an ignored master. Recording quality is very good despite the casual nature of the dates.


In Cerca Di Cibo
In Cerca Di Cibo
Price: £13.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia - In Cerca Di Cibo, 10 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: In Cerca Di Cibo (Audio CD)
Absolutely superb! On this showing Trovesi must be one of the most original and creative jazz musicians anywhere in the world. The music is played by Trovesi on various clarinets and Gianni Coscia on accordion. There are fifteen pieces in the programme, many composed by Trovesi himself, others by other Italian composers, with two exceptions, John Lewis' 'Django' and 'El Choclo', a piece of, I think, Mexican origin, recorded originally by Kenton's very first band but not heard much since. Despite the separate tunes I wonder if Trovesi conceived this as a single work, commencing with some short and subdued numbers, changing to an aggressive tone in the following numbers and then reconciling the two moods later, before recapitulating the opening title number to bring it all to fruition.
Trovesi is a masterful clarinetist with a full smooth tone on the quieter numbers which open the disc. The music is melodic, indeed beautiful on a slow piece like 'Geppetto'. The music is restrained, with the clarinet and accordion working closely together. By the fifth number,'Minor Dance', it becomes more aggressive, the tempo rises and Trovesi begins to play with a growl as he rises up the register. By the time John Lewis' masterpiece is reached the duo play with stately gravitas but also, in the clarinet solo, with anguish. Thereafter moods vary until we reach 'El Choclo', which I remember as an entertaining piece of trivia, but here becomes a vehicle for clarinet so aggressive it nearly, but not quite, falls over into incoherence. Matters are then resolved as calm and beauty return in the final version of the title tune.
Trovesi, both here and elsewhere in his music, shows himself as a player of great originality with complete control of his instrument. Coscia, although not as prominent, shows considerable technique and rhythmic force and plays a full part in the ensemble and in his solos.


Let Them Crevulate
Let Them Crevulate
Price: £8.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stan Tracey - Let Them Crevulate, 29 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Let Them Crevulate (Audio CD)
A superb record without a weak point on it. I am always a bit wary about records where the only horn is a trumpet as the band can sound a little sparse, but there is no such problem here. Guy Barker on trumpet is technically extremely adept but never makes a song and dance about it. On faster numbers such as 'Come Rain Or Come Shine' he is all over his horn with some exciting attacking trumpet but never loses control. On slower numbers such as 'Strange Fruit' (apparently not the old Billie Holiday number) he plays beautifully, using what I think is a cup mute to produce an attractive sound rarely heard nowadays. He produces a gorgeous full toned sound on Billy Strayhorn's 'My Little Brown Book' and a forlorn, lonely sound on the slow 'Soneva'. Elsewhere he simply plays masterful swinging trumpet at various tempi. Truly a master class from him but the record offers far more.
The rhythm section of Andrew Cleyndert and Clark Tracey cannot be bettered. Cleyndert plays full toned supportive bass and Tracey is forceful but not overbearing. Both combine to swing strongly where needed and to support sympathetically on the slower numbers. What is noticeable is that, when needed, they combine to produce the slightly jagged, lurching rhythm that is an important part of the music of both Stan and of Monk.
Stan himself is on top form. Obviously influenced by Monk and By Duke, here he is wholly Stan. His style is dissonant, playing the cracks between the notes rather than the notes, as Duke used to, but still contrives to be melodic. There is little point in singling out individual solos, because all are of a high standard, whether playing originals, standards, ballads or pieces from the repertoire of Duke or Monk. And that raises another couple of points. The pieces on the disc are noticeably varied and Stan is back to his best in the control of his group. The dynamics of the band are perfect and the arrangements are such as to ensure variety and continuing interest through each piece.
I have had some reservations about Stan's control of his early septet in an recent review but here nothing can be faulted at all.


Solstice
Solstice
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £7.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ralph Towner - Solstice, 27 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Solstice (Audio CD)
After I had listened to this a few times I was a little disconcerted to realise that apart from a general feeling it was a pleasant record I couldn't remember much about it. More listening has confirmed the view that although this is an attractive disc, it is not a great one, as some of the other reviews seem to suggest, and most of the better moments tend to come from Garbarek and the rhythm rather than from Towner.
Garbarek plays mainly tenor and his crying, haunted sound at slow tempo characterises the disc and gives the music the strength it has. By comparison his soprano has always sounded a little light but is not much featured. His flute, a new sound to me, is, and is an important part of the music. Weber's bass is strongly featured, both as carrying melodic lines and supporting the ensemble. Christensen is less prominent but adds constant repeated drum patterns and commentary although little rhythmic impulse. All three musicians have long experience in the ECM type of music and their work here is an attractive example of that style.
Towner is slightly different. His acoustic guitar is pleasing and fits in well with the harsh sound of Garbarek's tenor. When he solos at length he shows himself to be a fine guitarist but to these ears he spends a little too much time making sounds off to the other players rather than any extended music.
Of the tunes, 'Visitation' and 'Red And Black' are little more than brief interludes, but 'Oceanus' is a lengthy piece featuring good solo and group improvisation all round. The remaining tunes are mainly slowish but Garbarek works up a considerable head of steam a couple of times and there is an attractive guitar feature on 'Piscean Dance' and some appealing flute on a couple of tracks. Indeed, there is considerable variety on the disc bearing in mind the similarity of tempi in most tunes.
So, an attractive record, without being particularly significant.


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